6. Jasper Johns – $300m
He’s still alive, we hear you ask? Inextricably linked to American abstract expressionism, at 91 years young, his 1983 piece Flag fetched $87 million at Sotheby’s in 2014. Jasper Johns is known for his deceptively simple paintings of simple American icons – the flag, a target, and so on. That’s easy, you might say – but on closer inspection the medium tells a different story. Flag, for instance, is an encaustic painting, or hot wax painting, which involves using heated beeswax to which coloured pigments are added before applying to a wood or canvas surface.
5. Brice Marden – $500m (unconfirmed)
Described as ‘the most profound abstract painter of the past four decades’, there is no clear information on how much New York-based Marden, born in 1938, is actually worth – however in 2008 he sold a painting for $9.6 million. Generally described as Minimalist, although his work may be hard to categorize, Marden has a preoccupation with rectangular formats, and the repeated use of a muted palette. In his early work of the 1960s and 1970s, he used simplified means, typically monochrome canvases either alone or in series of panels, diptychs or triptychs, including the legendary solid grey The Dylan Painting, 1966.